It’s Okay to be a Bald Girl

Selfie!
Selfie!

I used to tell my husband, who has been bald since we met, that if I could get away with shaving my head I would. I was so envious of his ability to take a 2 minute shower and be ready to go any place within  minutes. No combing, no prepping, no worrying about bad hair days.

When the opportunity came to fulfill two desires, helping St. Baldrick’s Foundation raise money for ped cancer research AND being bald, well of course I was excited. I was so anxious for that day, mostly because I wanted to participate in something important, but also because I wanted to feel my hairless head. I bought a tee shirt that reads, “BALD AND BADASS.” Shaving my head was on my proverbial bucket list.

Hair is overrated. Very much by our society. If someone doesn’t have hair, especially a female, we automatically assume something is wrong with said person-either physically as in illness or something psychological: “She’s just a freak!” Sesame Street has an annoying-as-all-shit song in which the puppet sings for two minutes about how great it is to have hair. I can’t express how incredibly frustrating it was to endure  it while my bald son, who was in the midst of chemotherapy, watched. What is so important about hair?

There are the obvious answers: It protects your scalp from the sun. It keeps your head warm. It’s there to flagellate your face on windy days-if your hair is long, that is. The societal custom of idolizing people with “good hair” is not so logical. People with incredible locks are considered more worthy, as is the case with everyone deemed more attractive. But, does having hair make one more attractive?

Obviously that answer is no. Many chrome domed male celebrities are considered handsome- Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis, Patrick Stewart (yes he is handsome), Michael Chiklis (Come on. The Thing, Fantastic Four), Andre Agassi (who I thought was more handsome without hair than with), Jason Statham (who isn’t completely bald but pretty much), Chris Daughtry (the only reason I ever watched American Idol, ever), Shemar Moore (hoooooot).

An old photo of my hubby looking like Bruce Willis
An old photo of my hubby looking like Bruce Willis

 

So, we’ve established that men without hair are sexy. All right, not all bald men are sexy:

I'm sure he was very handsome, in his day!
I’m sure he was very handsome in his day!

But what about women? Why is it so unusual for a woman to be bald? Are women less attractive without hair? Well, maybe if you’re head is shaped like a warped cantaloupe (but we can’t all have perfect domes, now can we?)

After the first shave, I decided to keep shaving. I don’t wear wigs. I don’t wear hats, except when it was colder. I don’t hide my baldness. There are reasons for this. One of them is because I can strike a conversation with someone that leads to me telling them about St. Baldrick’s Foundation and the necessity of funding and donations for ped cancer-that is the point, really, isn’t it? Another reason is that I feel there is no shame in being hairless. People who lose their hair should not feel the need to cover their heads out of self-consciousness. If they choose to cover their heads because of personal preferences, then so be it. But no one should feel less worthy because they have no hair. I have to admit I also don’t wear wigs or cover my hair because I’ve always been against adhering to gender roles, and I like to force people to experience their discomfort at something totally innocuous, and then maybe they’ll realize it’s unwarranted. I don’t have to have a hair style. Shaving it is a style. I choose to go bald because I like it, and you know what else? My husband likes it, too (He’s really always had a thing for G.I. Jane). Other reasons I choose to remain bald are that I want to stand in solidarity with  my son, who now has more hair than me. Although, it is obvious his hair isn’t growing in a usual way. I also choose to stand in solidarity with every other woman who has lost her hair due to chemotherapy and radiation, or for other reasons (Lupus, Scarring Alopecia, Alopecia Areata, Trauma . . . Read about some of the causes of hair loss at the Locks of Love website.) Lastly, I am going hairless for the summer because this is New Orleans and it is VERY HOT. Not having hair will be a plus (I will be sure to wear sunscreen). My plan is to start growing it in the fall, and by March next year, I’ll participate in another St. Baldrick’s Event. Lastly lastly, I have absolutely NO TIME for hair. I wake up, work all day taking care of RB and housekeeping, running errands, and on the phone with eighty different coordinators acting as my son’s nurse administrator, then I pass out with my GOD FORSAKEN CPAP MACHINE , but that’s for another blog.

Now, are women less attractive without hair? Let’s see: Sigourney Weaver, Charlize Theron, Robin Roberts, Kellie Pickler (who also shaved her head in solidarity with someone close to her with cancer), Natalie Portman, and Demi Moore.

Photo http://standard.co.uk (http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/health/whats-all-the-buzz-jaime-winstone-shows-how-to-wear-the-close-crop-7654534.html?action=gallery&ino=2)
Photo http://standard.co.uk
http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/health/whats-all-the-buzz-jaime-winstone-shows-how-to-wear-the-close-crop-7654534.html?action=gallery&ino=2

 

I admit I’m no Demi Moore or Natalie Portman, but I am bald. And I’m a girl. And it’s okay.

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The Spinet

Image courtesy of [Maple] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

It was cold. Colder than usual for a fall night. Carl looked upward. The stars were like far away diamond specks against the sky’s sapphire backdrop. The first quarter moon was bright and cast a smoky glare. Carl thought it looked like rain.
It’d been six months since Carl last walked the trail through the woods to the old house, his grandparents’ house. There was no reason to since grandma’s funeral. But his mother had asked him and his brothers to remove the old spinet. Once his great-great-great-grandmother’s, the instrument had literally been in the family for centuries. His brothers were supposed to be meeting him there with the truck. Carl thought they should have gone earlier in the day, but Geof didn’t get out of work until after five. And Brian couldn’t make it until eight for some reason. He didn’t have an explanation, like usual. We always do things on their schedules, thought Carl.
Carl’s foot came down on something long and narrow. It was hard, harder than a small fallen branch or brush. The thing rolled as Carl’s shoe made contact with it, and Carl’s foot slid before him for about a foot before he caught himself on an extended tree limb. He knelt down to examine this long, narrow, and hard thing.
It was difficult to see at first because Carl’s eyes hadn’t adjusted to the level of light under the canopy of trees. He held the thing, holding it in both hands, his palms open. He lifted it with care, like an infant at a baptism.
Carl squinted to see in the dimly lit woods. He brought the thing closer to his face, and when he realized what he held, he threw it down and wiped his palms against his clothes-as if he would cleanse them that way. His breath was heavy; he placed a hand on his chest. He stared at the thing. Carl turned around, looking in all directions, as if he would find an explanation as to why such a thing was laying on the path.
He contemplated turning back, but he decided it was best to walk to the house. Geof and Brian would be there. He would tell them. Maybe they would call the police.
Carl swallowed hard, but his mouth and throat were dry. He could feel his pulse in his head and in his throat.
Suddenly, Carl was aware of the sounds of the woods. Sticks cracked under the foot of some unseen animal. The bushes’ leaves thrashed and whipped, the victims of some unknown commotion. A cat shrieked.
Carl broke into a run, nearly tripping down the path as his feet attempted to outrun his body. Neither Geof nor Brian were there when he arrived at his grandparents’ dark and abandoned house. He wanted to go inside, but he didn’t have a key. He wished he’d brought the thing with him. He didn’t remember where it was. He was so frightened by his discovery that he couldn’t remember where on the path the thing was located.
Ten minutes passed as Carl stood with his back against the house. With his leg crooked, he tapped his shoe against the wooden slats. They were neglected and needed painting. Carl’s mother had sent him and his brothers to paint the house, but their grandmother refused to allow it saying she’d rather spend the afternoon with her boys. She took them all in from the heat and made them lunch and dessert. Five days later, she suffered the stroke. Carl thought of his grandmother and wished she were there now, to take him inside.
After fifteen more minutes, the headlights of Brian’s Chevy appeared on the long driveway. Carl stood in front of the house waiting for his brothers, squinting against the light. Geof exited the truck first, then Brian’s door swung open. He groaned, and he stepped out.
“Let’s get this done,” he said as he pulled up the waist of his jeans. “What’s wrong with you?” Brian asked when he saw Carl’s anxious expression.
Carl explained to his brothers about his discovery. He told them how he’d fled and didn’t exactly remember where to find it. His hands were shaking, and he crossed his arms and stuffed his hands into his armpits.
“It’s probably from some animal,” scoffed Geof.
“I’m telling you, it isn’t,” insisted Carl. “I’m in my third year of biology. I know the difference.”
Geof and Brian looked at one another then back at Carl. They decided to call the police.
“If it’s some kind of dog or something, I’m going to kick your ass, Carl,” swore Brian as Geof made the call.
“It’s not,” Carl said. “I swear to you; it’s not.”

The men moved their family’s spinet into the truck while they waited for the police to arrive. Carl thought he would feel more comfortable inside the house, but he didn’t. The electricity had been turned off, but everything else was the same. The furniture was all there, the television. All of the doors in the house were open. It was as if his grandparents simply vanished leaving everything in place. Carl thought it was creepy.
The police arrived just as Geof was locking-up. Carl explained to them about his find, and that he wasn’t sure where on the trail he’d found the thing. Another police car manned by two officers pulled into the long driveway. The seven men started on the path, walking away from the house. The officers held flashlights, and their beams joined to create one uniform glow over the path. They were almost to the end when Carl stopped them.
“It wasn’t this close to the street,” Carl explained.
“We walked the whole path, Carl,” sighed Geof.
“I know but . . .” Carl was interrupted by the sound of brush crackling and more chaos in the tall grass between the trees. The officers shone their lights in the direction of the noise. It stopped, and they walked into the woods to investigate. Brian and Geof followed, and finally so did Carl.
Carl stood several feet behind his brothers and the officers, not wanting to be left alone but not wanting to head into the danger. The officers moved the leaves of the bushes around while Geof and Brian watched. It seemed they were satisfied they hadn’t found anything significant, and all seven men turned back to the path.
“Good job, jackwad,” sneered Brian as he passed Carl and gave him a hard push.
“It was there. It was somewhere,” said Carl. It really was, he thought. Wasn’t it?
The others walked back toward the house while Carl followed, staring at the dirt the whole time. He hoped to see his thing. He didn’t imagine it.
Brian and Geof were far ahead of Carl, talking to the officers and offering apologies for their brother. Carl heard something to his left, like shoes shuffling in the dirt. Before he could turn to look, four hands were on him, forcing him into the brush. Someone pressed a long, narrow, hard thing against his throat.
“Seems you found something don’t belong to you,” a man breathed into Carl’s ear. Carl could smell his rancid breath. He tried to scream, but the thing was pressed hard against his throat. Someone else took hold of him, and then he was off his feet.
Carl struggled and writhed, but the men were too strong for him. He was losing oxygen and losing strength. When they reached their destination, the man holding Carl’s legs let go of them so that his feet struck the ground hard.The first man with the rancid breath was still holding the thing against Carl’s throat. Carl looked up at the man through his half-opened eyelids. The man realized this and spat in Carl’s face. Carl tried to turn his head, but the thing was pressed too tight against him.
The second man had Carl’s legs again, and the first man abandoned the thing he used to crush Carl’s trachea. He took Carl by the shoulders, and both men heaved him into a sort of pit. Carl was dizzy, but having his oxygen renewed, he scrambled to his feet. He looked at the high earthen walls surrounding him. Helpless, he looked up at the men. They grinned at him and turned away for a moment. Carl clawed at the dirt, but it was useless. The more he tried to climb out, the more the soft clay came apart in his hands and crumbled to the floor of the pit. With his back pressed against the cool, damp earth, Carl peered at a form crouched in the corner. His heart rate increased, and his breathing was again heavy. He swallowed, but his mouth was full of dirt. Carl knelt down beside the figure in the corner. Mud struck Carl’s head as the men shoveled dirt on top of him. Carl’s hand shook as he reached out to touch the figure. It tumbled to its side when Carl’s trembling hand felt it. He could then see it was a female skeleton, its left femur missing. Carl knew. He was in his third year of biology.

 

Copyright Donnell Jeansonne. All rights reserved. Reproduction or duplication whole or in part not permitted without permission and credit to the author.

A Donnell by Any Other Name

Readers, it’s become obvious to me as of late that I’ve got a rather confusing dilemma. It involves my name. Although I am named after my mother-my first name is her middle name, and my middle name is her first name-it is a name that has, over the last couple of decades, become popular as a man’s  name.

I didn’t realize it until I was an adult. I’d never even known anyone, male or female, with my name until I was in my early twenties. It was around then I started to meet some folks randomly who shared my name. However, they were all men. I haven’t cared much about it until recently. It’s been fun telling telemarketers there is no Mr. Donnell Jeansonne living at my residence. But recently I had to make a call regarding my son, and I was asked by the person on the other end of the phone, “You’re a she?” And lately I’m receiving correspondences from magazine editors and such addressed to Mr. Donnell Jeansonne. Yet I am very much a Mrs! Should I take the advice of some and change my name? I don’t really want to. I like having a unique name. It fits my personality.

From what I’ve read, though, I’m not in bad company. Best selling author Anne Rice’s real name is Howard, after her father, I’ve read. The website Girl2Watch.com lists the following female celebrities with male names in their article 15 Female Celebs with Guy Names: Alex Kingston, Cameron Diaz, Chris Evert, Drew Barrymore, Glenn Close, Fergie, Jami Gertz, Hayden Panitierre, James King, Jeri Ryan, Jordin Sparks, Peyton List, Scottie Thompson, Reese Witherspoon, and Sean Young. Not that I think I’ll ever become a female celebrity with a guy name, but it’s at least comforting to know there are successful women with names not matching a conventional moniker of their gender. It’s also been discovered that female lawyers with masculine names are more successful, make more money, and are more likely to be appointed to judgeships. I’m certainly no lawyer. But I could always create a fictional one.

I’m insulted by the assumption of others that I am male simply because of my name. Not so much because they assume I am a man, because I could care less about that. But because I am being stereotyped, placed into their convenient standardized packaging. It’s why I don’t want to change my name. It’s mine. It wasn’t given to me without thought and sentiment. And it’s how I’ve identified myself for over three decades.

Now while writing this a thought came to me. I could always use my first and middle name together, thereby maybe helping others to understand that I am in fact a woman-with a man’s name. What do you think? Would the name Donnell Maria Jeansonne better illustrate my gender to those reading my name without the ability to see my face or hear my voice? Should I change my name altogether and choose a different name? Should I just say who cares and correct others who assume I’m a male?

Would a Donnell by any other name smell as sweet? 

All images taken from Microsoft Office Free Clip Art http://office.microsoft.com